By: Amy Lang
No matter how hip, open, informed, or confident you may be, talking to kids about sex can be tough! It can feel awkward and uncomfortable for both you and your kids to have these conversations, but don’t let these feeling deter you.
Over and over again, when teens are surveyed, they say the people who have the most influence over their sexual decision-making are their parents. We are powerful, we have influence and they want and need to hear from us.
School won’t handle it –neither will their peers and the media –so that leaves us. And most of us are really pretty clueless as to how and when these conversations should start.
Here are some tips to help you out along the way. Remember, this is about health (both physical and emotional) and safety. The sooner you start (age 5 isn’t too young), the better. And kids who have open communication with their parents about sexuality are offered some protection from sexual abuse.
And really, just do it! So they won’t “do it” without thoughtful preparation and protection and make you a grandparent before you’re ready.
- Start the conversations early but also remember: it’s never too late to start these conversations. Always say, “this is not for kids” and “this is for when you’re older.”
- The very first thing you need to do is clarify your values about sexuality, love, and relationships. Elementary-age kids need to know about puberty, that people usually do have sex for pleasure, what “sexy” means, and your values regarding dating, different kinds of relationships and families, and when sex is okay.
- Remember, this a series of short and sweet conversations throughout childhood and adolescence, not one big “talk” that traumatizes you both.
- Talk to your kids in the car, text them, email them, or write them notes. You don’t have to do this face-to-face all the time.
- Look for teachable moments – watching movies or TV, or even from their friends’ lives.
- Get age-appropriate books for them to read with or without you. Include books about puberty and adolescence, when the time comes.
- Acknowledge their discomfort and your own and then dive in. They need this information to make great choices.
- Make sure they know they are in charge of their bodies, and have the right to say NO if anyone touches them in a way that feels uncomfortable.
- Tell them who their “safe” adults are and as your kids age, LISTEN way more than you talk. Reserve judgment and be calm. Use a peer-to-peer communication style.
- Relax and take the time to think about and plan what you want to say before you say it! And say it over and over!
There are more general tips for talking to your kids on my website, as well as video tips, book suggestions, interviews, my Mom’s Choice Award®-winning books and products, including my video, Birds + Bees + Kids = The Basics. This video is for parents of all beliefs to help everyone become confident about talking to their kids about sex.
Amy Lang, MA, teaches parents of all beliefs how to talk to kids about sex through consultations, workshops, videos, teleclasses and talks. She is a three-time Mom’s Choice Award®-winner for her products and books.
Watch video, sign up for her newsletter, read her blog, and schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation at her website BirdsAndBeesAndKids.com. A sexual health educator for over 20 years, Amy also has a MA in Applied Behavioral Science. Follow Amy on Twitter @BirdsAndBees, where she Tweets funny things kids say about sex or be her Fan on Facebook!
Amy Lang’s Keep Kids Safe PSA
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